September 23, 2021

Funding Opportunity: “Beyond the Walls” Awards Seek Libraries to Lead Community Anchor Collaborations (TV WhiteSpace Project)

Full Text of an Announcement via the Schools, Health, & Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB):

San Jose State University’s School of Information (iSchool) in partnership with the Gigabit Libraries Network (GLN) announced today they have begun accepting proposals to fund five projects under a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to expand the Libraries WhiteSpace Project.

The award seeks libraries who will initiate partnership projects with neighboring anchor institutions to explore and develop innovative uses for TV WhiteSpace (TVWS) units to support remote fixed and portable library hotspots at new locations in their communities.

The “Beyond the Walls” Awards are funded through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS): ”Libraries Leading in Digital Inclusion and Disaster Response via TV WhiteSpace Wireless Connections.” A self-paced online course has been created to accelerate local project planning.

“This initiative will further explore the role of libraries as leading community anchors promoting access and inclusion through strategic technology integration.  There’s a nice intersection between what we’re implementing and the concept of community anchors, which has been used by IMLS to describe the role of libraries in providing civic engagement, cultural opportunities, and economic vitality to communities,” says project Co-director Kristen Rebmann of SJSU.

Winners of these subawards, due to be announced in April, will support library-led formation of local/regional collaborations with schools, health clinics or other community anchor institutions (CAIs). Successful proposals will include innovative, high impact plans for TVWS/Wi-Fi implementations that: (1) improve access/inclusion and (2) develop structures for multi-organizational collaboration as a component of community crisis/disaster preparation.

“TV WhiteSpace is a new wide-area, wireless networking resource, ideally suited for libraries, schools and other community anchor institutions to enhance and extend access,” notes fellow project Co-director Don Means of Gigabit Libraries Network. The project and subaward winners will be supported by leading global manufacturers of TVWS technology: Adaptrum, Carlson Wireless and 6Harmonics.

The project builds on the work of a grant in 2015 from the Knight Foundation to GLN in partnership with the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) to build preliminary analysis and orientation tools, including a 2 minute overview video, for libraries interested in exploring the capabilities of license-free TVWS to inexpensively expand access to a range of institutional services.

Like WiFi, TVWS units use free open spectrum, requiring no third party carriers, ongoing fees, licenses or other permissions for use in wide area intra-facility digital communications. But unlike WiFi, TVWS has long range and penetrative capabilities that can support broadband connections over miles and around or through obstructions like trees and buildings.

A national consortium led by SJSU-iSchool and GLN including the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB), National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) and Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC) will join to create new learning resources and conduct outreach to raise awareness of the program which will infuse 5 libraries, each with $15,000 in funds as sub-grant awards to support innovative regional implementations using TVWS wireless communications capabilities.

Background

WhiteSpace Project Could Grow Rural Broadband Access (by Matt Enis, Library Journal; Jan. 10, 2017)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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